Over the past several years, the word “cloud” has become a popular reference term for describing data stored somewhere other than on a local device. It’s not really a cloud at all of course, but a group of hard drives connected to the Internet. Cloud computing has become more popular hand-in-hand with the popularity of mobile devices-they have no hard drive-it seems only natural to store apps, songs, videos on the cloud so that we can access them no matter where we are. But does doing so put uses at risk? In some cases, the answer is a clear yes. Thus, users should think twice, or three or four times before signing on with a cloud storage provider.
The biggest danger users face when using the cloud is loss of information, oftentimes in a way they might not suspect. One example is of Wired columnist Mat Honan-he reported on how the password that he used for a cloud account was hacked-and because he used the same password for multiple accounts, found all of his accounts hacked as well. The end result? Hackers erased all of his songs, documents, videos, work files and everything else he’d been storing on the cloud. Worse, the original hack allowed the hackers to get onto his smartphone and access pin numbers and passwords to bank accounts, credit cards and other financial accounts. Sadly, Honan’s case is just one example out of thousands that are occurring every day. It happens because users are not aware of the danger of cloud computing.
Something else people need to consider is ownership of data held in the cloud. Services such as Google, Amazon and Dropbox clearly state when you sign up that the stuff they hold for your remains, legally yours. But, their fine print also says that they are free to put it where they wish on their cloud severs, which includes copying it. Ownership of copies is murky at best. What happens for example, if you close your Dropbox account? Does all you data disappear? Of course not, it’s been copied to backup servers etc. Thus, it will likely remain forever in a murky state of ownership. Also, if the government asks (with a warrant) virtually all such cloud providers will hand over complete access to everything they are storing.